Thoughts on Charlottesville by Dr. Jonathan Foley
By Dr. Jonathan Foley
This is a letter I sent to the Cal Academy staff after the terrible events in Charlottesville
August 14, 2017
Dear Academy Family,
If you’re like me, the last few days have been extremely difficult to bear. The events in Charlottesville — my mother’s home town, and where my parents met and got married — have rocked our country to its core.
No wonder. It’s 2017, and the racist, sexist, homophobic, ignorant, hateful ghosts of the Confederacy and the Nazis are back in force — today as “alt right” white supremacist terrorists. And more innocent people are being killed, injured, and terrorized.
These evil forces have always been in America, of course. They were hiding in the corners, like vermin, attacking the most vulnerable among us. But today they feel especially emboldened and proud of their disgusting beliefs, and are coming out of the shadows. And I, like the vast majority of Americans, feel sick.
I’m not sure what to say. I can’t even begin to understand this kind of hate and ignorance. It defies belief. (And I am aware that my own privilege has insulated me from direct contact with it for most of my life.)
But I do know one thing: A lot of good people are going to fight this, and fight like hell. Count me among them, along with all of us at the Academy.
The Academy, as a place of learning, science, and community, will always fight against this kind of hatred and ignorance. We will not tolerate it, and we will do our best to counter it through our inclusive culture, our respect for all members of the human family, our leadership in the community, and our work to illuminate the world around us.
Science teaches us that we are all members of the same species, the same human family, and that their old, hateful beliefs about race and gender are simply wrong. Science also should impart wisdom, which tells us that we must pull together, as a unified world, and build a better, more humane future for ourselves and for future generations.
And, today, I will ask you all to stand a little taller, and work a little harder, for this purpose. Everyone here has a role to play, and we are needed more than ever.
Thank you for all that you do to make this world better. It matters, now more than ever. And I’m deeply grateful to each of you.
With my deepest respect, Jon
Dr. Jonathan Foley (@GlobalEcoGuy) is a world-leading environmental scientist who focuses on global sustainability issues, including climate change, preserving global ecosystems, and sustainable agriculture. He is the executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, where he leads the greenest and most forward-looking science museum on the planet. These views are his own, and do not reflect those of the Academy or any other organization.